When I lived in the US, my favourite bookstore was the Tattered Cover and it was amongst the things that saddened me to leave most; in fact, I still miss it. So you can imagine how pleased I was to stumble upon the Sun Bookshop in Yarraville not long after I arrived back in Oz.
And it quickly became my go-to place to browse around, be inspired, find a great book to give as a gift (still my favourite thing to give), while away some time waiting for the movie next door at the Sun Theatre to begin.
Now, before I go further, I have to confess that I don’t buy all my books there. I do occasionally avail myself of online book retailers and eBooks. But for books I want to keep, to share with friends, to meander through over and over. For books that once I spot, I just have to have right then and there. Well, it’s my place.
Tattered Cover and Sun Bookshop couldn’t be more different. Tattered Cover is a huge sprawling local institution, where I could curl up with a cup of coffee and get lost amongst thousands of titles and hundreds of magazines.
The Sun Bookshop is an altogether different proposition. An intimate annex nestled between the foyer of the Sun Theatre and the coffee shop next door, it has an altogether more eclectic and limited range. But there’s always plenty to catch your attention, helped along by the monthly window display of titles that you can enter to win.
My husband and I have a tradition of giving each other books instead of cards for birthdays and Christmas, and I can always count on Sun Bookshop to have an appropriately interesting title (most recent was the Encyclopedia of Russian Criminal Tattoo – Volume 1).
Wandering the search pages of an online book store just doesn’t quite measure up to the sheer joy of that unexpected find. That feeling of “Oh I’ve got to read that”.
What the Sun Bookshop and Tattered Cover (and other great bookshops around the world) share is tangible connection – of being a human link between reader and book.
Whether it be via author events, recommendations, a story shared while the sale is made, the space to get lost among the shelves and the worlds they contain – it’s impossible for me to imagine a world without a Sun Bookshop (or a Tattered Cover).
Here are three takeaways for other SMEs:
1. Understand what you are selling. Is it a book, or is it a place for people to connect with each other and something they love?
2. Location, location, location – whether that is a physical shop or online store, being visible and easy to find is a definite advantage.
3. If you are trading solely on price you are on dangerous ground – someone can usually sell it cheaper, then what?
As a note – anyone I mention in these blog posts is here solely because I like what they are doing and think others can pick up a tip or two from them.
If you like a brand and think I would like it too, post it in comments or give me a shout out on Twitter with the name and I promise I’ll look at them – can’t promise I’ll talk about them though.
See you next week.